Lucille Ball is quoted as saying, “It’s a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.” Figuring out what makes us happy isn’t a priority for most of us. The modern world demands our time, attention, and focus on a constant basis, resulting in a happiness gap. Connecting to what is truly important and infusing our lives with more passion, hope, and commitment all starts with being able to recognize what makes us happy, and then closing that gap. Boosting your happiness level is not only fun, but can also be life changing. There is no perfect time to begin and no one-size-fits-all method. But there is one common starting point: recognizing what makes us happy starts where happiness always resides and always will—inside of us.
Here are some suggestions that can go a long way in helping you recognize what puts a smile on your face and how to put happiness back at the center of your life.
When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade
The next time you’re waiting in a long line at Starbucks, sitting in another endless traffic jam, or in any of the myriad situations that cause all of us stress, try to divert your attention away from the negative to something positive. It could be cranking up a favorite song on the radio, guessing what the people ahead of you in line are ordering—rewarding yourself with a brownie bar even if you don’t guess any order right—or just starting a conversation with someone in line. You can also spend the time recalling some happy memories, as this will help you re-experience the feelings of joy in the present moment. The goal is to find a way to shift your focus and make lemonade out of the lemons.
See If You Can Make Other People Smile
Happiness is contagious; so see if you can bring a smile to someone else’s face. Make a concerted effort to do something nice for someone else—either in word or deed. Connecting in a real way with others helps you feel better about yourself, puts positive energy into the world, and encourages others to pay it forward. Decide to let go of old hurts or grudges and forgive someone. Showing compassion for others helps enhance social connections, builds a sense of inner peace, and frees up time to think about what is next.
Journal And / Or Meditate
There are many ways people keep journals, meditate, or even combine the two activities. Find what works best for you and practice it routinely. Journaling and meditation help you become more aware of repeated patterns and mindful about what takes place in your mind, body, and thinking. Both techniques help calm our minds and focus our attention inward and to the present moment. Quieting our mind helps us see the connection between seemingly disconnected events, clarify and reframe our perspective, and shape better outcomes.
There are many other ways to begin recognizing what makes you the happiest, and you’ll know you’re on the right path as you begin to feel more optimistic, energized, and confident. I’m always on the lookout for new boosters, so feel free to share one that you use and isn’t on the list above.